INSIGHT

Finding Fun on the Ashuelot River

Blog Author - Sarah Powell
Sarah Powell

Rivers can be found throughout New England. There are more than two dozen rivers in New Hampshire alone, plus another 21 in Vermont.

A view of Ashuelot River

No wonder, then, that those of us who live in this part of the country tend to take the rivers for granted. They are just there, a part of the background of our lives, something we might cross on our way to work or stop at for a bit of fishing on a summer’s evening.

Rivers are one of our greatest natural resources and, aside from sheer scenic beauty, there are multiple ways in which we can enjoy them. Take the Ashuelot River, for example. It runs for 64 miles, from Washington, New Hampshire, to Hinsdale, New Hampshire, before it drains into the Connecticut.

What could we be doing on the Ashuelot, besides driving by it? Let’s take a look. 

  • Camping close to home is one of the most relaxing things you can do. So what if you live just up the road? You can still leave the world and its worries behind you—and without the hassle of a long car ride or security checks at an airport. Consider a stay at the Ashuelot River Campground, located just five miles south of Keene in the town of Swanzey. You can stay busy hiking and biking, swimming and fishing, or just chill along 3,600 feet of riverfront. Pitch a tent. Stare up at the night sky. Watch the river roll by. You’ll feel great!
  • Kayaks and canoes are welcome on the Ashuelot, and the river caters to your personal preference. If you’re a thrill seeker, launch your craft about 13 miles upstream from the Ashuelot Covered Bridge. You’ll have access to three dammed segments of the river, with waters that range from mild rapids to more challenging white water. If you’re less adventurous, float down the river from the Cheshire Turnpike Bridge in Keene to Ashuelot Village. Your biggest challenges will be a couple of short portages at two dams, one at Colony Homestead, the other in Winchester. Check out this map from the Ashuelot River Local Advisory Committee to see where you’re going.
  • The Ashuelot River also caters to your personal preferences when it comes to fishing. Fly and spin fishermen alike can expect to land bass, pickerel, trout, walleye, and catfish, to name just a few of the many species of fish swimming around in the Ashuelot. Trout is most plentiful, due in large part to the 10,000 rainbow and brown trout with which the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department stocks the river each season. Trout fishing, of course, is most associated with spring. However, around the towns of Troy and Swanzey, there’s an area of the river restricted to fly fishing where the trout are still biting into the fall.
  • Bridge Hunting. With New England rivers come covered bridges. If you’re one of those people hankering to see them all—and there are a lot of us in that category—the Ashuelot River has six covered bridges to add to your collection. All six bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Four are in Swanzey: Carleton, Sawyers Crossing, West Swanzey, and Slate. The Cooms Covered Bridge and the Ashuelot Covered Bridge are in Winchester. Each year in mid-September, the Sheridan House Museum and the Winchester Historical Society raise money by hosting a festive dinner on the Ashuelot Covered Bridge. Why not make plans to attend this year!
  • People don’t swim in rivers like they used to, back in the innocent days when you didn’t have to worry about toxic materials or harmful bacteria swimming along in the water with you. Fortunately, these days the Ashuelot is cleaner than it has been in decades, and if you want to be extra safe, you can always check up on safety of the water online at www.connecticutriver.us. On those really hot humid days, make your way to the cool, shady Deep Hole, located in Gilsum just downstream from the Stone Arch Bridge. Have fun!